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Mal Pugh Leaves Sky Blue FC, A Club For Which She Played 29 Minutes

A little less than a year ago, the Mal Pugh trade to Sky Blue FC upstaged the 2020 NWSL draft. The USWNT starlet left the Washington Spirit in exchange for four draft picks.

On Tuesday, Pugh was on the move again, this time sent to the Chicago Red Stars along with Sarah Killion Woldmoe for three draft picks and an international player slot. 

At the end of 2019, Pugh was one of the biggest stars in U.S. soccer. She won the Women’s World Cup, had made 63 national-team appearances and produced 13 goals and 17 assists before her 22nd birthday and looked like the next big thing for the USWNT. But 2020 had different plans.

Pugh’s stint at Sky Blue FC lasted less than a year and included all of 29 minutes on the pitch. She missed the NWSL Challenge Cup with a hip injury and managed just one short appearance in the NWSL Fall Series. Pugh also played just 30 minutes for the USWNT.

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The question now for the Chicago Red Stars: Was 2020 an aberration for Pugh or will the 22-year-old continue to be hampered by injuries? Admittedly, 2020 was a tough year for everyone, so it’s hard to make too much conclusions. 

When Pugh was on the pitch in 2020, she made it count. In the SheBelieves Cup, she assisted a goal for Lindsey Horan. In her one match in the NWSL Fall Series, she set up a Midge Purce game-winner in stoppage time.

“I am incredibly excited for the opportunity to play for the Chicago Red Stars,” Pugh said in a news release. “The team has so many great players, including some of my USWNT teammates, and I can’t wait to join them and work hard to help the club bring home a championship. A huge thanks to the ownership and coach Rory Dames for making this happen. I’ll see you all in the Windy City soon.”

The other player in the trade, Woldmoe, is an NWSL veteran of five years, having made 116 appearances, about 2.5 times as many as Pugh. Chicago gave up the fourth and eighth overall selections in the 2021 NWSL Draft, a conditional first round pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft and an international slot for 2021 and 2022 to obtain two players.

“I am so excited to be a part of the Chicago Red Stars,” Woldmoe said. “I’ve always admired the style of soccer and world-class talent on this team. I cannot wait to be in a training environment with them every day. I want to thank Chicago for this opportunity, and I look forward to getting to know the city and fans.”

Time will tell if this was a smart move for either club.

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